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September 18, 2009

Filed under: journalism»investigation

Tobacco Underground

Yesterday I attended the Knight-Batten awards for innovation in journalism with some of the other multimedia team members at CQ. There was some really interesting work being shown (such as Pro Publica's Change Tracker project), as well as some for which I remain skeptical (the concept of "printcasting," for example, seems deeply misguided to me).

One award-winner that did truly impress me was the Center for Public Integrity's investigative journalism into tobacco smuggling. Titled Tobacco Underground, CPI lays out the global implications of the illicit tobacco economy, including hazardous counterfeit cigarettes from China, contraband flooding out of Russia and Ukraine, and a billion-dollar black market in the US and Canada run by organized crime. Tobacco is even a major funding source for terrorists in Pakistan, Northern Ireland, and Columbia. CPI's piece is an astonishing look at something that I (as a non-smoker) and likely most others would never suspect was an international criminal enterprise worth billions of dollars. Check it out.

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